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Honda commits to retaining non-SUV models in Australia as Civic Type R accrues 1000 orders

Daniel Gardner

Civic and Accord models to remain part of the family while Honda Australia broadens its SUV horizons

Honda is keeping the Accord and Civic models firmly in its Australian portfolio, despite meagre passenger model sales and a renewed focus on expanding its SUV endeavours.

While many brands’ transition increasingly into SUV-centric line-ups is in response to unfaltering crossover and high-rider demand, Honda is retaining the brace of models as an important part of its local identity and product diversity, it says.

Honda Accord front 2023
Honda has committed to retaining passenger vehicles in Australia

With just 10 sales to its name to the end of February this year – and 96 for all of 2022 – the Honda Accord sedan will remain on showroom floors, as will the Civic hatchback, which has managed a more respectable but still not record-breaking 150 registrations.

Passenger cars a niche slice of Honda range but they’re safe for now

The Civic and Accord were outsold by more than 10-to-1 by Honda’s SUV models last year, with 865 Civic models being delivered in 2022.

In the case of the venerable Accord, it’s tiny share of Honda sales is most likely attributed to the prolonged slump in midsize sedan demand locally as well as a lifecycle that’s approaching the end in its current generation.

Honda Civic eHEV 2023 front 3/4 suburbs 2
Only 865 Civics were sold last year but Honda believes there is lots of room for growth

For the Civic however, Honda says it has the potential to do much better and its relatively low sales figure is aligned with supply constraints and the Covid-19 hangover. Neither model is on the chopping block however.

While Honda Australia may not have been able to deliver many Civics since the new model was introduced in 2021, customer demand and orders tells a different story.

Catering for wide variety of customers a key goal for Honda

When asked if Honda may transition into an SUV-only brand Honda Australia COO and executive director Carolyn McMahon responded “I don’t think so.”

“We want to cater for a wider customer base,” she said. “Obviously we’re focusing on SUV because that’s been the fastest growing segment of the industry. But demand for Civic hybrid is pushing right out.”

Honda HR-V Vi-X 2022 rear 3/4
The HR-V hybrid has been quite the hit

According to McMahon, the combination of supply bottlenecks and customer interest, hybrid versions the Civic have blown wait times out to the middle of 2024 while fans wanting to put a Civic Type R on their driveway will have to wait nearly two years with more than 1000 orders taken.

That said, the protracted lead times are not just limited to the Civic with virtually every Honda model impacted by supply constraints. Non-hybrid models are currently experiencing a delay until the middle of the year, while the HR-V hybrid is on backorder for approximately six to seven months.

Civic has icon status for Honda Australia

In addition to the Civic’s untapped potential, Honda customer experience general manager Belinda Cusworth explained that the model served as a heritage ambassador for the brand and is important as a halo of sorts.

Honda Civic Type R 2023 front 3/4 track
The Civic remains an important car for Honda

“Civic is so iconic and gets such high demand from a brand perspective,” she said. “It’s aligned with the brand overall so we don’t want to lose that. That is part of who we are.”

While Honda’s fresh-faced Civic is enjoying a new lease of life in its new 11th generation and expected to run its full course, the Accord is feeling less youthful and Honda Australia was unable to offer a date for a mid-life update or replacement.

Brands including Mitsubishi have already transitioned into SUV-only families, while marques such as Ford are all but SUV if it weren’t for the Mustang.